Euthanasia and Physician-assisted Deaths
Euthanasia and physician-assisted deaths have become a major topic of debate internationally. Upon analyzing an article that aids in defining how euthanasia and physician-assisted deaths play into palliative care, a better perspective can be developed on the topic. White papers are government reports that give citizens and the reader concise information on a given topic or issue; in this case, the issue is discovering how the different forms of hastened death play into palliative care. The overall purpose of this experimental study was to define the ethical frameworks and issues in relation to patients desire to have an assisted suicide.
For the EAPC, European Association for Palliative Care, to set up these guidelines they designed an experiment based off a paper they published in 2003 regarding the topics of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicides. The took the previous 21 statements established on the information apropos of the time, creating a five-round test to update the validity of each statement. These five-round tests were based off the Delphi procedure, where experts answer questions based on multiple rounds. In the first round, experts in the palliative care and medical field were asked to give feedback. The rounds following this are all conducted using Survey Monkey; It is an online survey service to which the participates agreed or disagreed in a rating of sorts, using the Likert scale, with the previous set 21 statements. To create an updated version of their 2003 outline, they looked at the statements where those whom those who participated in the survey study did not completely agree with said statement. There were 6 out of the 21 statements that the participates didn’t agree with completely, although 68% was the lowest percentage of which all the participated did not agree (EAPC, 2015).
The results of the surveys were rather interesting in that they decided that euthanasia and physician-assisted deaths were not a part of palliative care. They clearly defined the multiple concepts discussed, creating a more clear-cut white paper. Palliative care is defined as the professionals in that field viewing every life as full of worth, hoping to get the patient to see that resulting in improving their view of the situation they are dealing with. It was decided that palliative care experts should take into consideration the requests of euthanasia and physician hastened deaths to determine the thought process behind their wishes. The surveys showed that people believe that if the patients receive “special psychosocial and spiritual counseling” along with the best medical attempts to cure whatever symptoms the patient is having that they will view their life in a better light.
I feel that this article would rate moderately high on the timeliness aspects of the TRAAP test. This article was posted in April of 2015, leaving a good three years of information on the topic to grow. Euthanasia, physician-assisted suicide, and other forms of hastened death have steadily become a heavy debate topic internationally. With timeliness how fresh and new the information presented in the article is looked at. This study is more recent than many of the studies that are out there, even as the topic has grown, making it one of the more up to date articles. Considering that this article was based off a 2003 white paper and was looking to refresh the definitions and ethical framework as the topic began to heat up adds to the timeliness aspect.
This article ties together hastened death and how with the right counseling and treatments a patient could see that their life is full of worth, no matter their current state. This article defined certain terms and all the information present in the article is detailed. I feel that this makes the article rate more on the upper side of the “R” or relevance scale of TRAPP, which gauges the importance of the information in the article. The article aided in my understanding of palliative care, euthanasia, physician-assisted suicide, and all the aspects that should be considered. I feel that could have delved deeper into how depression impacts the patient and their reasoning as to why they wish for a hastened death. I think if the researcher and experts in this article would have addressed how “terminal” illnesses play into a patient’s decision, along with other major factors, it would have allowed the reader to get dual perspectives.
To examine the credibility of the source, we look at the “A” in the TRAAP test, which stands for authority. This article rates highly on the authority scale due to the multitude of credible experts and authors that put together the article. This article was also peer-reviewed by multiple credible experts and authors. The EAPC has an Impact factor of 3.780, which adds to the credibility of the article. Those who wrote the article are on the board of the EAPC, making them experts on the topic at hand, not only did the go to school to learn about the topic at hand, they also work first- hand in the field and are able to see the assisted suicide debate first hand. I feel that the way they conducted this experiment was a little narrow and they could have broadened the study a little more, extending it to other medical professionals.
To determine how reliable and correct the information from the source is, we look at the second “A” in TRAAP, which stands for Accuracy. I feel that this article rates high on the accuracy scale of the TRAAP test as its information is heavily based on expertise and expert research. The multiple authors of this paper cite all their sources, so you can track where they obtained the information in their article. I read about a lot of new topics concerning physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia, yet this article is backed up by a more reliable source. The authors that contributed to this article “declared no potential conflicts of interest,” creating a less bias piece (EAPC, 2015).
The main goal of the “P” in TRAAP is to evaluate the purpose of the article and why it was created. I would rate this article rather high on the purpose scale of TRAAP. I feel that the author’s main goal is to inform the readers about the updated version of the white paper the EAPC established in 2003 along with the current debate about hastened deaths and its possible expansion. The article sets out to explain how palliative care is a much better alternative to euthanasia; although, physicians should consider a patient’s wishes at all times. The target audience was anyone who has an interest in the current debate about the ethical framework of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicides. This article also targets those in the medical field who want to gain information on the benefits of palliative care in comparison to styles of hastened death. The information in this article stays on topic and gets across the points it set out to make, creating a high rating for the purpose aspect.
Overall, I would rate this article very high according to the TRAAP test. The information in the article is relatively current and up to date. The article relays information that is important when discussing physician-assisted suicides and euthanasia, along with the palliative care aspect of health care. The information in this article is very reliable and all the sources are easily able to be tracked. Those who aided in writing the article are experts in this field of healthcare and were able to give insight from an authority figure who can relay an accurate perspective of the topic to the readers. This article also gives defines its purpose and explains it throughout the entire paper, resulting in a clear set of defined terms and concepts surrounding palliative care, euthanasia, and physician-assisted suicides and how they all intertwine.
Looking back at the methodology of this article, there were a few strengths and weaknesses that should be further looked at. In the research article, the number of experts that took the survey was not listed, knowing the number of people who took the test would allow the reader to gauge how many experts agreed with the 21 statements. Another weakness of this article’s methodology would be that all of those who took the survey work on the board or are members of the EAPC, I feel like this makes the results of this study a bit bias. I feel like this could also be a strength considering they are all experts in palliative care, making the information reliable.
I feel that if they had expanded the survey to other palliative care organizations and may be used physicians who participated in euthanasia, the results would be more all-inclusive. I think that the way the survey is set up is good for analyzing the 21 statements, allowing the person who conducted the experiment to look at how people agree with the statement. I think that the survey is also a little suggestive, in that it is leading the medical expert to think morally and not consider all the aspects of euthanasia.
This article addresses my research topic well. The article touches on how patients should receive counseling and made to rethink the value they put on their life, to make the patients reconsidering their worth. The article gives off the impression that through palliative care and counseling, those who had previously wanted to commit suicide will feel more at ease with their lives. I feel that it could have discussed depression more and how that affected a patient’s decision to commit physician-assisted suicide. The paper explains how many get patient’s request death, so they don’t feel like a burden to their families, and because they are miserable in their current situation, and are reaching for control.
Through an examination of all aspects of a patient's reasoning for wanting a hastened death should be talked about and can ultimately save their life. This article branched out to discuss more of the ethical standpoint of euthanasia and how that should be a last resort and heavily monitored so killing does not become socially acceptable and palliative care is not devalued in any way. The article does not touch on the topic of depression as much as I would have liked but provided a good source with very valuable information.